Jan 31, 2018
By Chelsea Warren
It’s January which means that alongside that goal-setting (and maybe re-setting of 2017 goals), it’s a time to look ahead. Here at Technology Services, we strive to always strategically look ahead to see how we can better connect residents to city services and support city agencies.
From Forbes to The Washington Post, to good old Gartner, there’s a lot of noise out here on 2018 tech trends. We’re going to leave out the conversations around BitCoin and Amazon (#top20finalist, just sayin’) and focus on trends that have a distinct local government impact.
1) Denver is Getting “Smarter” aka the Growth of the Internet of Things
Spurred on by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, Denver is aggressively embracing and testing new and better ways to deploy technology and using data to improve services for residents, businesses, and visitors. Denver Smart City is knocking down silos between departments, optimizing city operations, and addressing some of our biggest challenges: crime, traffic congestion, vehicle crashes, air pollution, and economic imbalances.
2) Cybersecurity Investments
Local government must keep up with growing cybersecurity threats. The last year marked an uptick worldwide in increasingly sophisticated ransomware and hacking attacks. Denver will continue to invest in holistic active monitoring and response tools alongside an investment in redundancy in our systems.
In 2018, the city will invest in new data security standards put forth by the payment card industry (PCI) including the implementation of two-factor authentication. We will also continue to buildout, refine, and practice our Continuity of Operations Plans which serves as the blueprint for our critical technology portfolio.
3) We like Big Data and We Cannot Lie
The world is doubling the amount of data created roughly every two years (IFLScience). Think of data as a natural resource and one that is relatively untapped. Big data is a treasure trove waiting to be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations.
To meet these challenges, the city will be moving away from the traditional data warehouse and open data platforms to a data hub. A data hub is a repository of all data that the city has or needs to make decisions. The objective is to bring all the data into a cloud-based elastic data warehouse platform where it can be easily consumed by city staff and the public. Individuals will be able to bring their own data analysis and reporting tools to our data hub and perform in-place data analysis (no downloading needed). A core component of the data hub is a robust data replication tool. Replication is foundational to the success of the data hub and will allows us to replicate data in real time to various targets.
4) Improving the Customer Experience (hint: AI is coming)
Our goal is to support a true omni-channel experience for users. This means that regardless of how residents reach us (text, chat, phone, pocketgov.com, email), they can move fluidly from one medium to the next with (or without) an agent to find the information they need or get help.
In 2018, this means engaging artificial intelligence to build chatbot functionality in our phone system, website and pocketgov.com. Finally, we are working to initiate outbound broadcast functionality to reach our residents for high volume or unexpected situations (i.e. trash is delayed the week of a holiday or there is a water main break in a specific neighborhood that needs to be communicated) and deploying native Android and iPhone apps for pocketgov.com, making the application easier to access for those who work, live or play in Denver.
5) Pressure to Move to the Cloud and Investment in Platforms
One of our top strategic priorities is to provide access to our applications and systems anytime, anywhere, on any platform. This means increased investment in cloud technologies that allow our employees to spend more time focusing on features and functionality instead of maintenance and patching. As of 2017, and thanks mostly to the city’s Innovation Fund, Denver has moved half of the city’s enterprise applications to cloud solutions.
2018 will bring the conclusion of a multi-year project to replace two 30-year-old mainframe applications that support the valuation, assessment, billing, collection, and distribution of business and residential property taxes (approximately 20% of the city's revenue) with a SaaS solution. This solution, along with our continued investment in cloud platforms, allows us to be agile and focus on innovation rather than simply keeping the lights on for our customers.